Thunder coach Rich Kromm has spoken often in the last few days about “playoff hockey.” It’s different from the regular season, more intense, more physical and the pressure is greater.
The Thunder went out Saturday and showed an example of exactly what its coach was talking about.
The Thunder’s 3-1 playoff win against Ontario in its first round of the ECHL Western Conference series wasn’t perfect, but it was very good. Stockton hit hard and was aggressive, and outplayed Ontario much of the game.
It also received another vital part of playoff hockey — great goaltending. Brian Foster stopped 26 shots, and several were great chances by the Reign. He stopped a 2-on-1 break late in the game, and handled everything other than a 40-foot bomb from Kyle Bigos which sailed through traffic and found the back of the net.
Hard hits. Timely goals. Good goaltending. If Thunder keep playing like this, it will be hard to handle.